Doom in Harad
A Preview of Race Across Harad for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
"Doom hangs still on a thread. Yet hope there is still, if we can but stand unconquered for a little while."
–Gandalf, The Two Towers
That means your heroes will soon be able to ride for Gondor atop the Oliphaunts they tamed in The Mûmakil. But—as you might expect from a trip across a land under the shadow of Mordor—your heroes' journey won't be an easy one. You'll head out of the jungle and into the desert, and you'll need to avoid or battle any patrols you encounter.
Throughout Race Across Harad, you'll find your heroes chased by Orcs and Wargs. And while the expansion's scenario forces you to push your Oliphaunts to their limit in a race for the Ford of Harnen, its player cards introduce a little doom of their own…
The Power of Orthanc
As it follows your heroes' desperate journey through the hostile realm of Harad, the Haradrim cycle rewards you for brokering alliances whenever you can, allowing you to recruit some of the noblest and most talented Haradrim heroes and allies to your cause, and rewarding you with powerful, new events that you can play only when you control characters with specific pairs of Traits.
But while these new alliances feature prominently among the Haradrim cycle's player cards, you'll also find many other cards that recall former alliances. Over the course of its Adventure Packs, the Haradrim cycle touches upon nearly every Trait, keyword, and mechanical theme in the game.
Side quests, for one, get plenty of new support, but with a twist. Instead of triggering powerful, one-time effects upon their completion, the side quests from the Haradrim cycle—like Explore Secret Ways (Race Across Harad, 36)—offer long-term effects that remain permanent so long as they're in your victory pile.
A powerful keyword that factored heavily into the player cards from The Voice of Isengard deluxe expansion and The Ring-maker cycle, Doomed X transforms some of a card's resource cost into threat increase. The result is that you get bigger short-term gains… but at greater long-term risk.
At the same time, though, allowing your Steward of Orthanc to add Doomed 1 to an event in order to gain card draw can greatly accelerate your ability to draw into the cards you need to once again reduce your risk in the long-term. And if you can cycle through your deck quickly enough, you may even be able to afford playing The Galadhrim's Greeting (Core Set, 46) or Elrond's Counsel (The Watcher in the Water, 59) to offset the extra threat increase.
The other nice thing about the Steward of Orthanc's ability is that it doesn't require you to do anything with your Steward, other than have him in play. Furthermore, as it's a Response ability, it's optional, and you can choose not to trigger it if either you or your allies are worried about your threat levels.
As for the moral implications of once again working side-by-side with Orthanc? That's a trickier one. Saruman (The Voice of Isengard, 3) may be a powerful ally, but flirting with all that Doomed threat can certainly take its toll. Will it be worth it to heed the advice of his Steward, then? The answer is a solid, "Maybe." It all depends upon that card you draw…
The Wargs Are Nipping at Your Heels
Will you take advantage of the Steward of Orthanc and the "free" card draw he offers? What other mechanics will Race Across Harad revisit? You'll soon have your chance to find out.
The expansion's Wargs and Orcs are closing fast upon your heels. Race Across Harad is scheduled to arrive at retailers later next week!